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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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From the moment Don Imus uttered his ignorant commentary on the Rutgers ladies he went nuclear. People were frightened to even be around or remotely associated with him.

NBC quit letting its correspondents take part in his show, and then the sponsors bailed. As covered in my previous entry, that's really what ended it for Imus.

Wait a minute! Whether on radio talk shows, through emails, or even in my personal conversations so many people have said exactly that. Wait a minute! What about the double standard?

Okay let's address it. People have raised the point that Imus said bad, racist stuff and got fired. A lot of folks don't see any problem with the punishment. What they do see, however is rap and hip hop artists who say racist things all the time? Jay Z is one such artist whose name has been tossed about perhaps more than any other.

Do a google for his music. You'll see prolific use of the "N" word. You'll see the objectification of women. You'll see the glorification of killing and a gangster life style.

"How come that's okay!" So many people are asking that question.

Here's one important distinction to consider before moving on. Jay Z sells music. He's in private business to make music to which people can choose to listen or not. There are no strict laws governing decency in what a guy can produce in the music industry.

There are laws covering what radio and television stations are allowed to broadcast over the public airwaves. Broadcast channels on which Imus' show could be found don't belong to CBS or NBC, they belong to the general public. The FCC licenses private companies to use those airwaves, but also regulates to some degree the content they offer.

There are higher standards for what is acceptable for the dissemination on the public airwaves than there are for what is produced in the music industry. I hesitate to call that a double standard. It's a different standard.

I'll address one final issue in this affair in an entry tomorrow. It concerns Jay Z and sponsorship, since I've made so much of that relationship with Imus.  Consider Jay Z does ads for Budweiser. He's got a custom promotion for a GM SUV. He designed a special can for Coke-a-Cola. What about that? Is that a double standard? Tomorrow.

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